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Dublin: 2 °C Thursday 18 October, 2018
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Tributes paid to 'gentle, lovely' man who died on Suffolk Street

Stephen “Jack” Watson had been sleeping rough on Suffolk Street in the south inner city.

Jack Watson taking part in a photography project earlier this year.
Jack Watson taking part in a photography project earlier this year.
Image: Geza Oravecz via Facebook

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to a homeless man who died yesterday after being found unconscious on a street in Dublin city.

The man – who went by a number of aliases but was named locally as Stephen “Jack” Watson – had been sleeping rough on Suffolk Street in the south inner city.

A community outreach team had engaged with him at about midnight but he was discovered unconscious at 4am.

Watson  was treated at the scene before being taken by ambulance to St James’s Hospital in Dublin where he was pronounced dead. Gardaí said foul play is not suspected in his death.

Watson was originally from Ireland but had lived for a time in Australia. He had been engaging on a sporadic basis with homelessness services since October 2015.

18664216_1547400801959618_6077315434539934989_n Watson was involved in a photography project earlier this year Source: Geza Oravecz Photography

“A lovely man”

Watson – who spent many nights sleeping rough in Dublin – was well known to charity workers and community outreach volunteers around Dublin.

Keira Gill – who runs the volunteer outreach service A Lending Hand – said Watson was a regular service user.

“He was a lovely man. Really quiet and gentle,” she told TheJournal.ie.

He loved his hot chocolate and kind of kept to himself. He was a private person.

Gill said that Watson had been one of the homeless residents who had stayed in Apollo House during the Christmas period last year.

A group of artists, trade union officials and housing activists took over vacant Nama building Apollo House last December and repurposed it as accommodation for the homeless.

18671228_1547401195292912_696475762212476049_n Source: Geza Oravecz

Many homeless people stayed in the building throughout the Christmas period before a court order led to it being vacated in January.

“He was one of the residents in Apollo House and he used to have the kitchen spotless. He would always clean it top to bottom,” Gill said.

“He was always kind to the other homeless people and would listen to them.

And he always had our back on the soup run and made sure we were all okay. We only saw him on Monday night getting his hot chocolate and he looked fine.

Gill said that Watson was someone who had fallen on hard times.

Photo project

Earlier this year, the photographer Geza Oravecz worked on a project with Watson and two other homeless men to highlight the issue of homelessness in Dublin.

The A Beautiful Day in Dublin project was a collaboration between Oravecz and Barry Caesar from Westend Barbers.

Watson was one of three homeless men photographed and filmed for the project.

“I got this very, very sad news today, and I’m just speechless,” Oravecz told TheJournal.ie.

He was a good man, and we were trying to help him with [the] A beautiful day in Dublin project to give more spotlight to him and for the homelessness.

18700234_1547398728626492_7056451281251184936_n Watson (centre) and other men taking part in the project. Source: Geza Oravecz via Facebook

A spokesperson for the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive – which manages homelessness services across the four Dublin local authorities – yesterday offered their condolences to his family and loved ones.

“The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities, would like to express its condolences to the family and friends of the man, who very sadly passed away early this morning,” the spokesperson said.

Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme this morning that he was “so sad” to hear the news of the recent deaths.

“I am so sad to hear how two of our citizens died and my condolences go out to the families and all that knew them,” he said.

A vigil by different community outreach groups will be held outside Dáil Éireann tonight at 8pm.

You can view more of Geza Oravecz’s project here

Read: ‘A tragedy’: Investigation launched into the death of a homeless man sleeping rough in Dublin

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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